Ask An Agent: How To Cope When Neighbours Make Selling Difficult

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Rory Armstrong prides himself on his communication skills.

The real estate broker for Right At Home Realty Inc. knows how to turn negatives into positives and conflict into resolution. He was even able to stop a situation with his neighbour’s daughter from getting out of hand and the households continued to be good neighbours after that.

The same level-headedness and clear communication his clients love him for is the same skills he brought to the situation with his neighbour, which is why he’s the best person to answer this week’s question.

What can you do about neighbours who make selling your home difficult?

In cases like these, usually the problem was there before you even thought of selling the property, so even before you start listing, you could address the situation with them.

READ: The Best Neighbourhoods To Live In Within And Around The GTA

Remember that the source of the conflict may not be their fault. For example, if a neighbour’s yard is extremely overgrown or they leave garbage everywhere that’s visible from the curb, a lot of times it’s not an issue of them just being dirty or nasty. They just can’t afford to keep the property up.

I think the first step is communication with the individual. See what their standpoint is. Maybe you can help them clean up their yard or get a cleaning party together because not only will that help you sell your home, but the neighbourhood in general. It can be a bonding experience for the neighbours and bring them closer together. Maybe you don’t even have to pinpoint the offending neighbour directly. Perhaps you can just have an event where you call the whole street and have a clean up barbecue, so you’re getting everybody involved.

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I don’t think anybody wants to feel attacked. They don’t want to feel ostracized or that everybody thinks they’re a problem, so even if there are only three houses in a row, just do a “Beautify Our Side of the Street” event. You could even make it a neighbourhood challenge: a contest to see who has the best lawn or who has the best garden. Other than that, I don’t think there’s much you can really do other than call the city and complain, which will just escalate issues between you and the neighbour.

Even if there’s more animosity between you and your neighbour or your neighbour continually chooses conflict, I think it still comes down to communication. At that point, the dispute isn’t really about the property, it’s between the two individuals. If you say, “You know what? We never really got along and I’m deciding to leave. You probably want me to go as well, so this is your opportunity to shine a light to get a better neighbour.” At the end of the day, they’re probably happy that you’re leaving, so they might be more willing to make it easier for you to do so if it’s to their own benefit.

READ: What To Do About Odours Sneaking In Through Condo Vents

In my own life, we used to have an issue with our neighbour. It was an issue with their daughter, actually. The daughter would play loud music and wasn’t being respectful with noise. We communicated with the mother and just worked out a time that would be more appropriate for her daughter to play her music. We said, “Hey, you know what? We can’t tell you not to play music during the day, but we have a young daughter also, so just be respectful of our situation.” Since we properly communicated, instead of yelling at each other back and forth, we actually eventually became good neighbours.

It’s not just that you are communicating that is key, but how you are communicating. You may even come at it from the standpoint of being wrong to them. Maybe there’s something there that they think you’re doing bad that you’re not even aware of and they’re not communicating that with you. Perhaps if you come at it from that standpoint, it may open up the channels of communication and you both can move forward from there. Just be respectful. I think that’s what it boils down to. Just be respectful of each other.

READ: What Exactly Happens After An Offer Is Accepted?

If communication isn’t working and they’re just ignoring you, you can always take advantage of the legal remedies at your disposal, such as mediation, your lawyer or the police. If you live in a condo, you could always go to the condo board. But be aware that escalating the conflict may just make it worse, so these should be options of last resort.


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